Maintaining Your Identity In Motherhood: Part 1
As a postpartum doula, I work with a lot of professional women who are now in the throes of motherhood at a bit later age. Used to being in powerful positions and engaging in intellectual conversations with co-workers or clients, they find themselves alone on their couch with their baby while wearing the legging and baggy shirt combo of the day.
They are women who know how to run a business, care for patients, argue a case or manage an office, but when faced with the care of a tiny human, they may feel overwhelmed or lonely. They may feel like they have lost the “them” they had worked so hard to become. This life without structure is new and off-putting.
Where do you begin to put the “you” back in this new world of motherhood?
First and foremost, maintain a daily personal care routine
If you’re like me, I thrive on my daily routine. I need my morning coffee, a shower, a bit of makeup and to get dressed EVERY DAY whether I’m working in my home office or running errands.
Having a new baby throws off your routine.
Their sleep-wake cycles leave little time for you to manage your personal care. What is your baby’s cycle or rhythm? This may take a few days or assistance to understand their cues, but once you figure out their rhythm, it’s time to insert your daily personal care.
Before noon, technically while it’s still “morning”, and during one of your baby’s sleep cycles, take a shower. Not a luxuriously long shower like you took pre-baby, but a nice warm shower with all your favorite products. Now brush your teeth and get dressed. If no other part of your pre-baby routine gets accomplished, that’s ok. You’re clean, dressed and have fresh breath. By limiting this part of your routine to the bare necessities, you are allowing yourself a little extra time take a minute to breathe, watch the news or read your favorite blog….whatever makes you feel like you have a little control over your new existence.
Your morning routine should include time to eat…. slowly and without your baby in your arms…..the way you used to. Maybe this is the time you have a decadent treat or a snack. Who cares if it’s morning, it’s snack time somewhere. Indulging yourself while enjoying a bit of quiet in your day, again, may give you that sense of control that you had before maternity leave.
By maintaining some semblance of your pre-baby morning routine, you provide yourself with something your body may crave: consistency.
This concept is supported in an article by Sleep.org, Day In, Day Out – The Importance of Routine In Our Daily Lives:
“How critical is maintaining a daily routine for our well-being? ….. With regular daily activities, our various body systems are able to prepare for and anticipate events. We naturally become more alert closer to our wake-up time. Our digestive systems become activated in advance of regular meal times in order to more efficiently process food. We start to relax and become sleepy prior to bedtimes. It turns out that these regular daily events serve to anchor our underlying daily rhythms.”
Your personal consistency eventually can translate to your baby’s consistent rhythm or routine. And THAT is good for everyone!
If you’re reading this blog now, and your baby is sleeping, go hop in the shower. Take a little “you” time.
Watch for Part 2 of this series by following Family Tree Doula Services on Facebook and Instagram @familytreedoula.
Find out how a postpartum doula can support you in this process HERE.